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June 22nd, 2009
05:33 PM ET

How Neda divided my family

People tend to a woman called Neda as she lies on the street.

People tend to a woman called Neda as she lies on the street.

Telmah Parsa
For The Daily Beast

Last night I watched a disturbing video clip that has captivated Iranians and audiences around the world:

On a backstreet, a girl in her twenties, wearing blue jeans and white sneakers, is shot. The bullet has apparently pierced her chest. She collapses to the ground as a few men rush to help her and apply pressure to her gunshot wound. A man tells her: “Natars”—Farsi for “Don’t be scared.” Suddenly, out of her mouth and nostrils blood gushes forth. Then her eyes lose their focus and her head bends towards the camera. By now her face is soaked with blood. The same man who had told the girl not to be afraid now shouts: “Neda, bemoon!”—“Neda, stay with me!”

But Neda cannot stay. She dies.

Iran’s constitution has no Second Amendment. Only the state’s officials are allowed to bear arms. Neda was killed by a member of Basij paramilitary forces Saturday in Tehran. The video clip of her murder has circulated widely, turning Neda into a rallying cry for many struggling in the streets. (CNN ran the video in a pixilated version because of its graphic nature.)

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Iran
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. DJO

    It's not surprising to me that her mother thinks Neda shouldn't have been out in the streets. I would imagine that her mother and others of her generation learned that the grass was "not" greener on the 'other side' while they were out in the streets protesting in 1979 which resulted in this brutal regime. They just blindly wanted change with no thoughts of their children's tomorrows.

    Neda's mother's generation should be the ones out there "now" standing next to their "children" protesting and trying to help them undo the damage they did back then to this lovely generation. These young people today want change, but they have many ideas about how they want their tomorrows to be.

    Rest assured that President Obama will help you in many ways you may not openly see.

    June 23, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  2. Carla Bahri

    Neda is a martyr for Freedom. Her death symbolizes how much our life means so little when we crave to have our voices heard. The beat of her heart may have been stopped but her message of freedom beats on forever.

    June 23, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  3. eric

    The international community lead by the U.S(president Obama)should take a very tough stance on iran.

    June 23, 2009 at 7:02 am |
  4. Omar

    It's a sad video and whatever is happening in Iran. Many other women and children have died in Iraq & Afghanistan as well by the forces there. Has anyone given such consideration to their brutal killings?

    God Bless Neda.

    June 23, 2009 at 6:10 am |
  5. Beba S.

    Neda you are in my prayers... Hero! That's what you are! You represent what iranian women are! What all women are world wide! Bless your soul and heart! And for the one who fired the gun i hope Allah doesnt turn his back on him! Cuz already thr world had and his heart and memories of this day would hunt him for ever' Neda you are Freedome

    June 23, 2009 at 1:55 am |
  6. barbara

    I am an American woman. I am a Christian. I cried Saturday for the Iranian people, not for their politics, but for their spirit and courage. I noticed so many woman taking to the streets, with banners 'where is my vote', while still trying to protect people on both sides from harm. Then Neda was murdered, right in front of our eyes. I endorse President Obama's caution on the political side, but we women of the world can make our own statement. A statement about equality, a statement about justice, a statement about opportunity for our children, a statement that asserts the strong positive force we can be in the world ... where and how do we unite?

    My heartfelt condolences to Neda's family.

    June 23, 2009 at 12:53 am |
  7. Patty Droogan

    Neda,
    I can not think of words to say? Your Mother feels horrible this I know, we are all your mother now and We Love You for your Courage and Independance and your Defiant Voice in the Wilderness. No matter what religion you profess for it does not matter as God, Allah and Budah are all so Proud of You as I am! May your Mother stay strong because she will feel the pain in her very soul for what she said, but her heart will change and she will be your Stongest supporter when she takes down the regime that assassinated her daughter. My sweet daughter Neda you shall rise from the ashes like the Phoenix and all will be well. I think Maya Angelou's poem about And still I rise would be very profound right now! I believe we shall all rise and overcome our hate for one another and our religious beliefs and God will be pleased.

    Patty Droogan

    June 23, 2009 at 12:41 am |
  8. fahima, Connecticut

    Neda, your voice, our voice! A true martyr, in the best sense of the word.

    June 23, 2009 at 12:30 am |
  9. Aric D

    Neda was murdered because of her baseball cap, blue jeans and sneakers. She was deliberately targeted because of her individual freedoms. Every American should mourn this young woman's tragic death. She was killed by a zealous sniper trained by his extremist leaders that dictate and subjugate their weakness of tolerance. To those extremist everywhere please know, change is coming.

    June 23, 2009 at 12:23 am |
  10. Arash

    what my people want is a message from the Leaders of the Free World, specially Mr.Obama to remember her, that she should have had right to liberty and condemned a regime that lets that happens.

    June 22, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  11. Alex Kiplagat

    After watching what's going on in Iran, I thank God that there is still a nation united for one objective. We in Kenya had same issues after our electios but we fought tribe agaist tribe. Nada is one among the many millions out here who support changes that will change our lives for the better.

    June 22, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  12. Kaveh

    It's time to level the playing field for the courageous people of Iran against the Palestinian & Lebanese thugs on the payroll of the Islamic regime. Iranians need arms to protect themselves against the Basij force.

    June 22, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  13. Roger W. Tickner

    her "voice" may have been silenced but her message must resonate and remain alive. the people of Iran, like all people, deserve freedom. the rest of us who live free need to lend our "voice" to their cause. It's the least we can do for Neda.

    June 22, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  14. greg

    the shot that killed neda is the 21st century shot heard around the world.i pray her death will not be in vein

    June 22, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  15. Hank

    I'm on pins and needles. I have a friend there. Saw a photo that looked like him, but thank god it wasn't. I felt so sad that a beautiful young woman gets killed, just as a bystander.

    June 22, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  16. sarah

    whenever you hear "I'm only one person what can i do?" REMEBER NEDA. no one life is too small to affect change.

    June 22, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  17. lynne

    God Bless, whatever God you believe in. This is so sad and senseless.

    June 22, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  18. linda

    Neda Rest in Peace.
    I am confused and bothered by the scenes leading to Nedas' death. Maybe I missed something. The scenes I saw was of a young woman standing with an older gentleman. They were simply there, watching the protest happening around them. It seemed to me a scene much like any other event where history is happening. Events which draw people to come, to see, to hear with openness the voices of the protest... Not necessarily to take cause, but rather to observe, and learn. I did not see a young woman protesting, ranting or causing a threat to anyone...
    I live in the US. My niece came home last night, she spoke of her dinner plans changing when they encountered a large group (100's) protesting Iran. She spoke of how amazing it is to see just a crowd standing together for a cause... Neda lost her life; her crime appears, being an innocent a young woman, present at a moment in Iran's history.

    June 22, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  19. Rosa Wallace

    The struggle in Iran became personal as I watched Neda. I feel that she is the image of the fight for freedom in Iran. I am not Iranian, but Neda is my sister and what happened to her is so terrifying. I worry about the demonstrators. I hope they achieve the freedom that they so desperately seek. I am with them.

    June 22, 2009 at 10:08 pm |
  20. Isabel, Brazil

    As the situation worsens in Iran, the sad truth is that Neda won't be the last to fall in the valiant struggle for freedom.

    June 22, 2009 at 9:26 pm |
  21. Stephanie

    I don't know whether anyone else observed this, but the cameraperson who caught Neda's death approached from the direction of her feet, then moved to her right (left side of the TV screen.) As he/she moved, Neda's head and eyes turned toward the camera. She seemed, even in the act of dying, to be saying, "You must show this. You must show this. You must show this."

    June 22, 2009 at 8:55 pm |
  22. Annie Kate

    Neda was very courageous to protest knowing that it was dangerous to her life, which she did indeed sacrifice for her desire and belief in freedom. The older generation, as evidenced by the author's mother saying Neda should not have taken to the streets, illustrates the generation gap that more often than not comes with protesting and movements for improvement in government and freedoms. It does nothing to diminish Neda's death. It does however show that the protesters don't just have the military against them but the older generation as well. I hope a peaceful solution will be found – one that addresses the rights and freedoms the young people are protesting for and that Neda died for. I also hope there are not many more Neda's.

    June 22, 2009 at 8:44 pm |
  23. susan - Midwest USA

    Reaction
    1) part of this discussion is a generational difference. I think back to the reaction of the WWII generation and their kids, the Flower Power, etc and massive anti-war (Vietnam) protests that included the Kent State debacle and bombings of university lab thought to be "colluding" with the defense department. (I will try to not let you know my age)

    2) this, the Burmese, and so many others demonstrate the power, the necessity and the foresight of the American Founding Fathers. I rather think that placing the Right to Free Speech and the Separation of Church and state as first and foremost of the amendments, and, actually making it an amendment (actually more prominent this way) was brilliant. And so, it is imperative that we maintain the 4th Estate – whether as electronic or print media.
    The Internet blogging, reporting does place another level on the 4th Estate. This is why we are all part and parcel of the 4th Estate in some way – to bear witness and report what we know, whether it be in an office, on the street, in a shop, .... (Yes, we know about the difficulty of "fact checking", but all publications are not equal. The National Enquirer and People are also members of the 4th Estate, just as CNN, NYT and WSJ.)

    But, this also shows the power of picture and esp video over words alone. The power of words is to evoke those pictures. (too bad about Kodachrome)

    3) I wondered as I watched many of the YouTube videos that there were no arms with the demonstrators. I figured as much re: ban on firearms. (Again, a reason for the 2nd Amendment. The Founding Fathers were fearful that the fledgling republic might lose its way and require, well, what we saw in 1861.)

    Gotta tell you, though. As I saw those silly Basij on their motor scooters, I was just itching for a good bullwhip, a la Indiana Jones style. (I am also well aware of the result of a good strong rope that suddenly pulled up (esp to neck height) would have done. I'm told that long ago, a relative was killed that way.)

    4)for the mother, the problem was which of her beliefs was more inviolate. In this case, it was that a religious person could do not wrong. This trumped what she could see. The real question is if that would continue to be her reaction if she had been in the street with her, been physically present in her dying.

    June 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm |
  24. Mari

    Tragic.

    June 22, 2009 at 8:19 pm |
  25. Saman

    Well it's those views that talk about Israel, palestine and lebanon that support importing of Palestinians and Lebanese into Iran to do the things that even Iranian radical muslims will not do! Anyone from Iran knows that many of these militia forces on the streets are Lebanese and Palestinian citizens imported by the government for that very purpose!

    Yes it's tragic that people died in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon but those were two countries at war and not one government killing its own UNARMED civilians. UNARMED! Because civilians are not allowed to have firearms!

    June 22, 2009 at 8:01 pm |
  26. bb

    While my heart goes out to Ms. Agha-Soltan's family, I'm genuinely disturbed by the media's use of this video. It is, essentially, a snuff film that is being broadcast as news. What's worse is that, despite being unable to verify the source, news organizations are only tangentially mentioning that it's still unverified. Trying to find concrete information about the woman herself or what really happened when the video was taken requires a tremendous amount of digging. This is the media's first duty is, and I believe they're failing.

    The video itself or people's reactions to watching the video should not be THE news. Getting more facts about Neda Agha-Soltan and her circumstances and what exactly happened is news. As it is, news sources can't even agree on how to spell her name. I genuinely fear that this type of reporting uses the most emotionally manipulative tool imaginable – a video of a young woman dying – and presents it without any clear context or verification of facts. Isn't that, in essence, propaganda?

    While it may be difficult to obtain the facts of her death in such a volatile environment, l expect better journalistic standards from CNN.

    (I apologize for leaving this comment at the end of an editorial essay – it doesn't reflect my feelings about the piece above, just my overall response to this story. There aren't any places to leave comments at the end of the actual news story on CNN.com.)

    June 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  27. This is for Neda...

    Wrote on my Xanga about this as I watched earlier..

    So I was watching the news today, and there has been non-stop coverage of the violence of protest over the election in Iran. A guy caught footage of a beutiful young woman that had just been shot in the chest by an Iranian soldier. The guy swooped around and caught her as she was gasping for air taking her last breaths. The footage before had been blurred so I couldn't see her body, but the next time they showed her without censory. As the camera caught full view of her face, her brothers and father rushed to save her. Her eyes began to roll back into her head and blood began to come out of her mouth and nose. After a few seconds convalsing she lyed still drenched in blood. Her family watching the last seconds along with millions who would live it with them over and over again. Her name was Neda.

    My stomach dropped and hit the floor like a free weight dumbell. I couldn't believe what I had just seen. I feel like I should do something. This could have been prevented, or someone could have saved her from military fire!

    Of course the next thing I turn to is MTV's new hit show "Prep School" where Upper East Side kids are filmed in their everyday lives as they prepare to go to Harvard, living the extravagant lives of luxury (& free promiscuous sex between them), all because of their family placement in society. Nothing could have been more ugly to watch than the spoiled independence of the upper .5% gentile of gods gifted children, after witnessing Neda's death and the millions of other Iranian people struggling to just live with a miniscule of what we have.

    Ok, this was pretty powerful stuff..so I need to breathe. Calm down.. A lot of emotion, adrenaline comes from watching a person die. I want to make a music video integrating the spoiled American dream and those who have to fight everyday for freedom we cannot comprehend. It's a comparison of two extremes, the ones chosen, and the ones who have to choose. I think the background theme would come from an artist like U2, or emotional revolutionary types of music.

    A good project for someone who is unemployed and heavy in thought. Cheers.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  28. Diogenes

    All it takes to bring down dictators is a single act of defiance. One single well aimed tomato thrown in Timisoara brought the tyrant Nicolai Ceacescu down!!

    Neda will bring the flowing beards down!

    June 22, 2009 at 7:44 pm |
  29. Donkenobi

    Autocracy, Democracy, Kleptocracy, Militocracy, Theocracy..... Democracy wins anyday.
    The Mullahs in Iran have been shown to be plain USURPERS...

    June 22, 2009 at 7:39 pm |
  30. Shad

    We will never forget Neda..she lives on in all of us..she's the symbol of our uprising against the forces of evil..we will never stop! FREE IRAN NOW..

    June 22, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  31. T Talhouk

    While what happened is abhorant and while we in the west don't like the Iranian Regime using this video as propoganda is reprehensable.

    Where was the videos of the horrors happening in Iraq by US troops and in Lebanon and palestine by Isreali Bombs? What's the difference, and why the media blackout surrounding these events?

    The cherry picking of what to show and what to censor is all down to what makes the most money, and the media figures showing a woman bleading out of every orifice very profiable... how disgusting.

    Perhaps you could have shown the first part of the video then explain that she died. This should have been plenty to let us know what happend, but instead I am bombarded with this image every time I turn on the TV. Shame on you CNN

    June 22, 2009 at 7:28 pm |
  32. Jeannie, Maryland

    I was already glued to Twitter on Saturday following the reports coming in from Tehran. My heart broke but my passion rose to a new level when the stories and then the video of Neda unfolded. Neda, they say means "voice" in Farsi. She has become their voice to the watching world.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:20 pm |
  33. Alice

    A true hero.. Iranians should always remember her. May she rest in peace.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:19 pm |
  34. Sherri Bearden

    God bless Neda,
    She surely is with God now. I hope her family can see what a remarkable woman she was. May she rest in peace and freedom now that she has died just trying to exercise the very peace and freedom she wanted in life!

    June 22, 2009 at 7:19 pm |
  35. Sandrac

    There are no words to describe my feelings about the madness around our globe. May God or whomevers higher power please bless us all. Peace to all.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  36. Mondi

    Help Iranians with Knowledge and techniques to defend themselves Give them their voice back by giving them more technology but dont run there to help them at least not now. We don't know what agreements countries such as China, Iran, North Korea russia have had. Lets not jump into conclusion of all forms. Let Iranians once in for all choose their own leaders, but don't leave them out.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:15 pm |
  37. Jill

    It is a sad day when a young woman and her father cannot be peacefully protesting in the streets. To be shot for standing up for your rights is inexcusable wherever you live. Will the person who shot her be able to live with himself? I hope not! May her face haunt you forever.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm |
  38. Les canada

    I would have been proud to have been her mother.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  39. Nick M Sotoudeh

    Dear NEDA:..You are the VOICE of our people. You are a CALL to FREEDOM. We will never forget you.We Promise to remember you as you were our sister. You broke the heart and sole of a nation. We solute you. Rest in Peace my dear.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:05 pm |
  40. S Callahan

    When I think of Neda I reflect on the justice that is too come for her.
    This is one of the promises of God in Revelations..
    When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. The called out in a loud voice, "How long Soverign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitanats of the earth and avenge our blood?"...They were then each given a white robe and told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed (vs 9-11). Neda knows her death is not in vain....God is the God of all Gods and gives justice.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  41. Mary Westerfield

    It is so sad that innocents have to die in this battle for freedom. People feel wronged and they have certain rights. Many rights are taken from people in Iran. This is a people we need to pray for. So sad, this story is.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:03 pm |
  42. Sam M.

    I encountered something similar. My roommate had an insensitive reaction to the video. Once the subject was brought up, her first reaction was "ew that [video] was disgusting"... It was hard for me to hear that because Neda had died for freedom which Americans take for granted. This woman died and has her death broadcasted worldwide, this is not gross... But my roommate continued to talk about how the blood had disgusted... My roommate's insensitive attitude grossed me out.

    June 22, 2009 at 7:01 pm |
  43. WOW

    @ christina, Windber, PA – If the mother did say that she shouldn't have been in the streets, then her mother cannot possibly be mourning and challenging her daughter's death @ the sametime... Sad.... so sad. Her daughter was doing something that her mother obviously could careless about... Change has to come, they cannot continue to live in a democrat "LESS" society where the people have no voice. Its whatever they want and that's it... WTF!

    June 22, 2009 at 6:58 pm |
  44. todayido

    I know this video caused tears to flow freely around the world.

    The world is changing ~ we can make it hard or easy ~ Imagining World Peace ... Let not Neda's death be in vain :*-(

    June 22, 2009 at 6:58 pm |
  45. darleen r dhillon

    A brave and beautiful young woman. Her loss is shocking, and my heart goes out to her family, and the whole country of Iran. She will not ever, ever be forgotten.

    dd
    Berkeley, CA

    June 22, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  46. christina, Windber, PA

    This story broke my heart. Even worse than the senseless death of Neda is that mother's reaction that she shouldn't have been in the streets. It's remarkable the way people can rationalize the behavior of those in power, even when it makes no sense.

    I pray for all these people and hope this conflict ends soon.

    June 22, 2009 at 6:11 pm |